The Peace Criminal

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Everybody knows who is a war criminal. For example, somebody who kills prisoners-of-war or massacres a civilian population (or allows others to do this) is one.

The time has come to define who is a peace criminal: somebody who kills peace and thereby makes war inevitable. Golda Meir, for example, in the early 70s, killed the chances for peace with Egypt and caused the Yom Kippur war, in which 2000 Israelis and countless others died.

Ehud Barak is a peace criminal. He brought about the failure of the Camp David summit and its consequences, primarily the present intifada, in which hundreds have already died. This might well lead to a general war, in which thousands will perish.

If there were an International Court for Peace Crimes, Ehud Barak would be indicted on two counts:

Count 1: The accused pressured Arafat and Clinton into agreeing to the summit and brought about its failure by presenting to it an ultimatum of unacceptable proposals.

Count 2: The accused spread the lie that he had offered Arafat “everything he asked for” and that Arafat rejected it. By spreading this lie, the accused destroyed the Israeli peace camp which believed him, brought the extreme right to power, prepared the ground for a “national unity” based on the lie and almost obliterated any real opposition.

At the Barak trial, evidence will be produced to show that he proposed at Camp David the formal annexation of 10% of the West Bank area (“settlement blocs”) and informal annexation of another 10% (Jordan valley etc.), with the rest of the territory cut up into enclaves and cut off from the neighboring countries (Egypt and Jordan); that he pretended to “give up” East Jerusalem but without giving the Palestinians full sovereignty there, and especially not over the compound of the mosques (“Temple Mount”); that he did not agree to any compromise on the refugees; and that he demanded that the Palestinians declare this to be “the end of the conflict”.

Until now, Barak’s blind admirers have fervently denied these facts. But this week a witness appeared who could decide the outcome of the trial. He is a neutral and objective eye-witness, whose integrity cannot be doubted by any judge: Robert Malley, personal assistant to President Clinton on the Middle East, who took part in all the Camp David deliberations. He will testify to the following facts, among others:

Before the summit, Barak reneged on his promise to transfer to the Palestinian Authority the village of Abu Dis and two other villages near Jerusalem, in spite of the fact that Clinton personally conveyed this promise to Arafat. Also, Barak refused to honor Israel’s obligations under the previous agreements: the third withdrawal from most of the West Bank areas, the release of Palestinian prisoners etc. Because of this, Clinton was furious with Barak on several occasions.

Before the summit, Barak continued to enlarge the settlements and build by-pass roads at a furious pace, thus destroying any vestige of Palestinian trust in his intentions.

Before and during the summit, the Palestinians not only gave up 78% of Mandatory Palestine, but also agreed to the annexation to Israel of “settlement blocs” and the Jewish neighborhoods built in occupied East Jerusalem. They also agreed to the principle that the Right of Return should be implemented without prejudicing the demographic and security interests of Israel. No other Arab government has ever agreed to similar concessions.

In exchange for the settlement blocs, Barak offered the Palestinians areas amounting to one ninth of the territory to be annexed, a ratio of 1 to 9, without specifying where.

During the course of the summit, Barak did not submit any proposal in writing nor specify the details of his oral proposals, and, most importantly, did not disclose either to Arafat or even to Clinton his ideas for a final settlement. In return, Arafat, too, did not submit any proposals, so that in practice there was no negotiation at all.

Clinton agreed with Arafat that Barak is “politically inept, frustrating and devoid of personal warmth”, but believed, in spite of this, that Barak wanted peace. Arafat believed that Barak did not want peace; he only wanted to convince the world that the Palestinians don’t want peace. As a matter of fact, since the summit Barak’s main boast has been that he “unmasked Arafat”.

Clinton broke his word to Arafat. Before the summit, he promised that if it fails, he would not blame the Palestinians. Only on this condition did Arafat agree to come to the conference, which took place without proper preparation. After the failure, Clinton put the sole blame on Arafat, in order to help Barak in his reelection campaign.

* * *

When Barak’s admirers were compelled to admit that the story about “the generous Camp David offers” is a legend, they fell back to another line: “True, at Camp David no reasonable offers were made, but later, at the Taba meeting in January 2001, much more generous offers were made. These met all Palestinian demands, but were nevertheless rejected by them. At Taba the Israeli negotiators also submitted a map that reduced further the areas that Barak wanted to annex.”

Here are some of the answers:

If Barak really wanted to make much more “generous” offers, why did he not make them at Camp David, even when he realized that the summit was about to break down?

The failure of the summit caused the outbreak of the intifada, as we (and, it now appears, the Americans, too) prophesied. From that moment on, the political reality on the Palestinian side changed completely, hundreds were killed, and it became much more difficult for Arafat to convince his public to halt the uprising without getting an important political achievement in advance.

The Taba proposals were never put to paper, and until this very moment it is not clear what was proposed, who proposed what and on whose authority. Barak, of course, repudiated everything the next day.

In the meantime, the election campaign had started in Israel and all the polls showed that Barak was about to be defeated by a landslide. How could Arafat make sweeping concessions to a man who, almost certainly, would lose power within two months? Especially since Barak did not reveal the proposals to his own public?

Arafat did not reject the Taba proposals, but declares even now that they must serve as a basis for any future negotiations, while Barak himself proclaims that the Taba proposals are null and void.

At the end of the trial, the question will remain: Did the accused, Barak, sincerely intend to reach a peace agreement, and only a mixture of arrogance, ignorance and political stupidity prevented him from achieving it (as Clinton believes, according to Malley), or did he, from the beginning, not have any such intention, but only intended to convince the world that he wanted peace while Arafat wants to throw the people of Israel into the sea?

It’s up to the judges to decide that.

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